tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC March 25, 2020 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
brain and he expects you to use the intelligence you were given. the pastor with the urgent plea. and the new treatment that could save patients in critical condition good evening, everyone hope you're watching us safe and at home. here in new york, the current american epicenter of this pandemic, the first data tonight suggesting that maybe, just maybe, social distancing is helping to slow the onslaught of coronavirus and yet, officials say the worst days are still to come. the numbers are still rising, leaving the region's medical system on the edge of being overwhelmed. and other cities fearing they may very well be next we've got it all covered. miguel almaguer starts us off >> reporter: as our country faces a national emergency and scenes like these unfold in communities big and small, tonight, new york state says it's the canary in the coal mine once bustling city streets have become
eerily quiet, while lines outside hospitals stretch around the block makeshift morgues are being prepared the governor says in three weeks coronavirus cases will hit their high point >> we still have the trajectory going up. 80%, still, self-resolve about 15% of the people who test positive require hospitalization. >> reporter: while the explosion of new cases in new york are slowing, the city's high density and residents leaving town could exacerbate the spread >> safe distance of six feet from others >> reporter: police are warning residents to avoid crowds. some city streets will be closed to traffic so pedestrians can spread out across the country, in california, where half as many tests have been taken than new york, the death toll and those infected could easily become the highest in the nation >> we are anywhere from about 6 to 12 days behind what we are seeing in new york city >> reporter: even in our country's most
remote state, hawaii, there is trouble in paradise, as new cases skyrocket. more than half the nation has orders for residents to stay home but some governors, like florida's, will not issue a state mandate. >> to order someone not to be able to earn a paycheck, you know, that is something that i think is inappropriate. >> reporter: but the world health organization says staying at home is vital. >> lock down, slow down a virus like this you have got to find those transmission chains, cut them to actually stop it >> reporter: tonight, in louisiana, where the virus is spreading faster than anywhere else in the world, hospitals describe their fight against the illness as a war zone our blaine alexander is in new orleans. >> today, bourbon street is practically a ghost town, but exactly one month go more than a million people packed here for mardy g mardi gras, and experts say that is a big reason why numbers are growing here faster than almost anywhere in the world. >> reporter: the crisis around the globe is grim.
white italy has the highest death toll, spain has now surpassed china. 700 dead overnight and just today, word that 71-year-old prince charles tested positive for the virus but has not been hospital sized >> we thought she just maybe had the flu or had a bad cough. >> reporter: in st. louis, all five members of the weinhaus family contracted the virus mom jane needed a ventilator to keep her alive. >> no health issues in her past no pre-existing conditions whatsoever. >> reporter: with this california doctor living in a tent outside his home to limit exposure to his family, it's another example of sacrifice, as every american faces the same threat tonight. in cities like new york, social distancing appears to be working, with the number of new cases slowing. that is offering a glimmer of hope. meantime, here in los angeles, we're told the order to stay away from crowds could last as long as two months. but lester, we should
point out, the vast majority of americans who get sick do not need to go to the hospital lester >> important to keep in mind. miguel, thank you. and this extraordinary crisis certainly leading to some extraordinary calls to action. for example, new york university graduating some of its medical students early so they can join the battle, as more hospitals around the country are besieged here's tom costello. >> reporter: from the doctors on the front lines, a sobering reality check on the pandemic desperate for supply is, new jersey dr. alexander salerno has set up triage tents to handle 300 patients a day and spent $17,000 buying supplies on the black market at an 800% marketup. >> they open up the warehouse and you see pallets upon pallets of equipments. gowns. n-95 masks hand sanitizers. clorox wipes it's insane. and i'm like, you know, like, there's no moral compass.
>> reporter: at brigham and women's hospital in boston, critical dare krchlt daniela llamas knows the devastating impact or not allowing viz tours to the hospital. >> i'm worried about my patients taking their last breaths alone. i worry about this at the same time that i acknowledge that this is actually what we must do in today's climate, with this illness. >> reporter: at new york metropolitan hospital in harlem, a surge of young patients on ventilators, struggling to breathe. >> at the present time, we have an adequate number, but the patients that are requiring the ventilator are increasing with each day and i will need more mechanical ventilators. >> reporter: new york governor cuomo, again, reiterating his hospitals are in immediate need of ventilators, urging other states to share theirs and promising to reciprocate and the virus rolls across the country. >> we're asking for their help and we will
repay it with dividends. >> reporter: other cities are also feeling the heat illinois's governor warns, in a worst case scenario, he'll need another 9,000 icu beds and 5,000 ventilators by april 6th, double what he has now. nbc's morgan chesky is in miami >> reporter: doctors here in florida say the low number of confirmed cases does not reflect reality, and that's why this field hospital is being built, to accommodate an expe expected surge of covid-19 patients. >> reporter: meanwhile, at unshatters, an addiction recovery nonprofit in upstate new york, they're working round the clock, making masks for local medical workers. >> we anticipate being able to make 1,500 masks per week, but we know we cannot meet the shortage >> reporter: the nation's v.a. hospitals also say they're seeing older covid-19 patients, but they insist they're also ready with masks and ventilators. lester >> all right, tom, thank you. a health crisis and of course a financial one. the economic impact.
so many people anticipating that massive emergency aid bill that includes direct payments to most americans, but tonight, the bill has still not been passed. peter alexander has late details for us. >> reporter: tonight, the largest economic relief package in u.s. history. more than $2 trillion worth, is expected to get the senate's green light, despite some last-minute drama. >> this is not even a stimulus package it is emergency relief >> reporter: first up, those direct payments to most americans. for people making up to $75,000 a year, a $1,200 check couples making up to $150,000 would get $2,400 plus an additional $500 per child next, unemployment benefits, rising by $600 a week for up to now expanded to include gig economy workers and freelancers. small businesses also getting a boost. forgivable loans up to $10 million to keep
paying their employees. also in the deal, $500 billion for corporations, like airlines including new rules on oversight and a ban on stock buybacks and more than $100 billion for hospitals. new york governor andrew cuomo saying his state, that's been hardest hit, will get $3 billion, what he says is not nearly enough >> that is a drop in the bucket as to need. >> reporter: overnight, new reaction to the president's suggestion that he'd love to have the u.s. opened up by easter >> we're going to look at it. we'll only do it if it's good. >> reporter: his top public health adviser, who has warned the outbreak will likely last well past them, calling the president's timeline an aspirational goal >> he's been very flexible about it. even though it looks like he's made this absolute decision on something, he does have an open mind about it >> reporter: that drama over the bill, a clash over unemployment insurance that still needs to be settled before it goes to the house the president saying he'll sign it immediately. and as for those checks, you could get
them faster if you have direct deposit with the irs if not, it could be more than a month by mail lester >> all right, peter, thank you. and that package includes hundreds of millions of dollars for small businesses, but will that be enough many workers resorting to desperate measures to get by. our gabe gutierrez reports. >> reporter: tomorrow, new national unemployment numbers are expected to shock the system likely millions of americans like cheryl swanson, are filing claims for thefirst time >> it's a new reality that none of us really know how to deal with. >> reporter: laid off from a restaurant in colorado, she says it took her six days to file her claim >> it was next to impossible a lot of my coworkers didn't even try, because they could tell from all of us that it was just maddening. >> reporter: gofundme is launching a small business relief initiative, where people can donate online across america, the great adaptation is under way. businesses are getting
creative to survive. >> big breath in >> reporter: yoga studios taking down dog online electricians in san francisco using their vans to deliver groceries. >> i think our guys are enthusiastic about it >> reporter: from chicago to omaha, distilleries now brewing hand sanitizer. >> we'll form an assembly line and drink odri crank out as many as we are >> reporter: tonight, new concerns about the work force still on the job. less than a week since amazon announced it was hiring 100,000 new employees, workers in at least six of its warehouses have tested positive for covid-19. and with customers packing grocery stores and pharmacies, employees there are on alert. >> it's a chance i'm willing to take and my crew's willing to take >> reporter: in some cases, the line for groceries stretches around the block some other stores here in the new york area have had to temporarily close after employees tested positive for the virus. lester
as the u.s. health care system is pushed to its limits, one top hospital has now been forced to dip into the secret stockpile we first showed you earlier this month stephanie gosk takes us inside. >> reporter: boston's mass general was planning for all scenarios, hoping it wouldn't be this one coronavirus cases doubling roughly every two to three days. >> i would say this is following our worst case scenario in terms of pace, in terms of how fast this se valving. >> how much transmission has been out there that we're not aware of >> reporter: just three weeks ago, they gave us an inside look at their pandemic plan, including a tour of the hospital's own emergency stockpile. this looks like a lot of stuff to me, but how long is this going to last? >> the goal was to give us a two-week buffer >> reporter: two weeks? >> two weeks >> reporter: that's not a lot of time. >> it's not a lot of time >> reporter: and now, the stark reality.
mass general has already tapped into their emergency supplies masks, sanitizer and face shields the federal government has yet to fill any of their requests >> we're try ig, of cour course, not to use it all right now. we still think we are several weeks away from the potential peak of the outbreak >> reporter: the hospital has 150 critical care beds they are scrambling to increase capacity by turning other units into icus. >> we can get up to 300 or so, with the efforts we've taken. >> reporter: and then, there are the ventilators. >> we've identified more than 200 additional that we're looking to bring onboard. >> reporter: but if they bring out, the hospital has a last resort plan. >> we can actually take the tip of this and put it on a t-piece to connect it to two people if we had to >> reporter: people can actually share this >> they can share it in a very rare circumstance we do not do this normally >> reporter: because normally, a hospital like mass general doesn't run out of the supplies critical to saving lives and
protecting the staff >> the reality is, right now, the supply chain just can't keep up with our needs. >> reporter: and every day, those needs are growing. stephanie gosk, nbc news and growing number of hospitals are imposing strict measures on who they are letting in their doors and causing anxiety for pregnant women. here's catie beck. >> reporter: at eighth months pregnant, carly lives in constant fear of contracting covid-19 >> it's horrible time for all pregnant ladies >> reporter: this week, more worry news from her doctor that she may have to give birth to her first child without her husband in the delivery room. >> you picture this milestone since you were a little girl and not having my husband there potentially is -- it's heartbreaking. >> reporter: hospitals across the country drafting new standards to restrict the number of people allowed inside delivery rooms. even limiting the number of in-person prenatal check oups. several hospitals in new york banning spouses and partners
entirely the anxiety now driving many pregnant women to explore delivering at home or in a birth center. >> we're getting swamped. >> reporter: calls to this midwife surging >> every day, all day, into the night, of women asking if they're appropriate candidates for out of hospital birth and if we have space. >> reporter: while giving birth at home may reduce chances of a covid-19 exposure, the decision to have a baby outside of a medical facility presents a whole new set of risks >> that includes an increased risk for perinatal death, as well as potential neu neurologic problems with the baby. >> reporter: and despite the increased demand for home birth, not every woman is a safe candidate for it. >> you don't want a midwife who is taking everybody at every cost this is not the time to -- for us to lower our risk standards >> reporter: still, for carly, the current standard's hard to accept >> emotionally, you want your husband to
be there, god forbid anything happens >> reporter: weighing the new complications of pregnancy birth during a pandemic catie beck, nbc news. by now, we've all heard the social distancing guidelines. the vast majority of houses of worship are abiding, but there's an important message tonight for those that are not. here's cynthia mcfadden >> reporter: so many things we never thought we'd see the hope watching over an empty st. peter's square driveup confessions in draper, utah >> the sacrament doesn't change >> reporter: shabbat services livestreamed all over the country ♪ in jerusalem, the iconic gold dome of the rock shuttered but not all religious leaders are on the same page. in louisiana, a pastor has continued services, despite a state order banning gatherings over 50 we've heard reports from all over the country of some people of faith who say,
listen, i don't have to -- i don't have to socially isolate, i don't have to stay home, you know, god is going to protect me. what do you say to them >> that's nuts that's crazy let me just say that that's dumb, it's unbiblical and it doesn't make sense >> reporter: rick warren, the paster of the saddleback search with 30,000 sunday congregants around the world, has never minced words >> god gave you a brain. and he's not going to write it in the guy, he gave you a brain and expects you to use the intelligence you were given >> reporter: warren and his wife started saddle the back 40 years ago. they've moved their ministry online. >> everything around me can be shaken, but god cannot be shaken >> reporter: does that mean god will protect and heal -- >> the devil's trying to give me the flu >> reporter: as a texas e vvangelical preaches >> put your hand on the television set >> reporter: that is not faith, that is presumption. god is not a genie he doesn't serve me. i serve him. >> reporter: a priest in grand rapids
serving by populating the pews with photos of those worshipping at home. >> reporter: looking at faces, it really took on a whole new meaning for me it was really profound >> reporter: keeping the faith and passing it on. >> this is a time, actually, for churches to shine and to help the vulnerable >> reporter: cynthia mcfadden, nbc news and up next, the new hope for critical patients
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joining us now is our medical correspondent, dr. john torres. john, i know the fda is allowing a treatment that essentially uses the blood of people who have recovered from the virus to help others exactly how does this work >> so, lester, it's called convalescent plasma the idea is when a patient recovers from coronavirus, their blood has anti-bodies that can be used on a patient that's currently infected this is not fda approved, but they are allowing doctors to use it on a case by case basis, but only for the sickest patients it's not a cure, but it's a therapy that can be used in the interim while we wait for medicines to be approved in the next three to four months and a vaccine, hopefully in a year. mt. sinai hospital here in new york is telling me they plan to start using this treatment in the next few weeks. >> all right, good to hear all right, thanks, john. up next, the power of making people smile.
finally, kristen dahlgren on how some kids are bringing a smile to people feeling vulnerable and alone. >> reporter: at a time when many are feeling helpless, some long island kids are doing all they can to help >> hi, everyone. i hope you're doing well and i will be singing "somewhere over the rainbow." >> reporter: transporting local senior citizens on lockdown to a happier place. ♪ somewhere over the rainbow ♪ >> reporter: sending videos and pictures through a program called "made you smile. ♪
they say a song can bring people together. tonight, that may be more true than ever. ♪ >> i appreciate this i have 17 grandchildren. ♪ you are my sunshine ♪ >> reporter: for kids and seniors, a ray of light in even the darkest times. >> stay healthy. bye! >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york >> well, they made me smile and we certainly appreciate them. and a note tomorrow on "today," issavannah guthrie interviews fed chairman jerome powell that's "nightly news," i'm lester holt. thanks for watching. please take care of yourselves and each other. california phones offers free specialized phones... like cordless phones.
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